Your first UVic Senate meeting Tweetcap of the academic year

Campus News

The UVic Senate may not be as exciting as the U.S. Senate, but at least they didn’t vote in favour of Kavanaugh

The UVic Senate gathers in the lobby of the University Centre for a group photo. Photo by Emily Fagan, Senior Staff Writer.

Last Friday, while the eyes of the world were on a senate deliberating over the future of the United States Supreme Court, the University of Victoria Senate assembled for their first meeting of the term to discuss posthumous degrees, upcoming projects, and to take a group picture.

The Senate, who is responsible for the university’s academic governance, welcomed several new members—including the acting university secretaries, an acting dean, and student senators.

Out of the 13 student senators, eight were present according to the attendance sheet.

Paper ballots were passed out at the beginning of the meeting to vote on the two student senator vacancies in the faculties of Engineering and Human and Social Development. A final tally would be counted at the end of the meeting and the replacement student senators would be announced at a later time.

UVic president and Senate chairperson Jamie Cassels started off the meeting with a report that spoke to various initiatives UVic has to look forward to, in addition to accomplishments over the last year.

“It was a strong year,” Cassels said.

He mentioned UVic’s Strategic Framework which will be implemented over the next year, and acknowledged areas the university is looking to prioritize such as funding for the Indigenous Legal Lodge program and aging infrastructure.

Also on the horizon is the creation of new student residence housing, which Cassels said will be the largest capital project in UVic’s history.

The first few main motions of the meeting passed without much discussion — the first motion filled positions that had sat vacant since May, and the next two concerned minimum grades for admission requirements.

Sara Beam, Chair of the Senate Committee on Academic Standards, then brought forward a motion to standardize procedures for awarding posthumous degrees, which are awarded on a case-by-case basis to students who pass away prior to finishing their time at UVic.

“It’s essential that there be a single point of contact with families to reduce distress,” Beam said, with that point of contact being the university registrar.

This process has been loosely implemented since 2004. However, Senator and Associate Professor Rebecca Warburton raised concerns that there have been problems in the past with confidentiality, and said that family members should approve of the degree before the awarding process is complete.

“Victoria is a small town, and these things get out,” Warburton said.

In response, Beam stated that every effort possible is made to maintain confidentiality. The motion passed, with only two votes in opposition.

Up next, the Senate approved new and revised academic awards, after a brief discussion as to whether the definitions of these awards will take into account inclusive language on gender identity and biological sex. Ultimately, it seemed to be that would not be the case for this year, but it was agreed that the subject would be discussed again at another time.

Then came a proposal from the faculty of Graduate Studies, pertaining to emeritus professors (professors no longer employed at the University) who want to continue supervising their existing graduate students after retiring from the university. Currently, the policy is unclear as to what happens to emeritus professors and the existing graduate students they are supervising.

A long debate ensued over various details regarding graduate students, their supervisors, and emeritus professors, including several aspects outside the scope of the limited proposal that was brought forward, and outside the scope of the Senate’s authority.

In the end, the motion was passed, giving both graduate students and their supervisors who are retired the same rights they had prior to the supervisor retiring. This was on the condition, however, that the proposal would be referred back to the faculty of Graduate Studies, where this subject and other issues regarding the rights of students and their supervisors would be studied in more detail.

At the end of the meeting, Cassels reminded everyone to stick around for a group photo.

The group reconvened in the University Centre lobby and huddled together for the shot, smiling in the face of another year of debate and decisions on UVic academia.

The next Senate meeting will be held on Nov. 2 at 3:30 pm in room C116 of the David Strong Building.